If you read the previous article on Hokkien 101, you’d know that I grew up speaking Hokkien.

What I didn’t add, however, is that my parents and grandparents spoke both Hokkien and Cantonese fluently, though I only managed to pick up 1 dialect.

I’ve always wanted to pick up Cantonese though but I can never seem to properly grasp the dialect’s tones and pronunciation.

But today, I’m going to try my best to convey the basic Cantonese words and phrases that I’ve managed to learn from my helpful colleagues and family.

The flow will be the same as the Hokkien 101 article, so it’ll be easier for comparison. Now, let’s dive in!

1. Oy and Mm-Oy

Oy, means “want” and Mm-Oy means “don’t want”.

The lack of consonants in Oy bothers me a little bit.

cantonese singapore
GIF Credit: giphy

So in future, if the waitress in Yum Cha pushes you the dim sum cart for Phoenix Claws, just say “Mm-Oy“.

2. Oy-Mm-Oy

It took me a while to not completely butcher this term into “Oy-Moy”.

Oy-Mm-Oy is the Cantonese equivalent of “Ai Mai”.

Example: “We’re planning a trip to Hong Kong in November and we have one more slot in our AirBNB. Oy-Mm-Oy?”

3. Chut Hoi

Chut Hoi, sometimes also known as Chut Gai, means “going out” or “heading out”.

Chut Hooi directly translates into “leaving home” and Chut Gai translates into “Going onto the street”. Either way, both mean that you’re not home.

cantonese singapore
GIF Credit: giphy

Example: “Where are you going? Everyday Chut Gai, then leave me at home with your father. I don’t know raise children for what.”

4. Saek Fong

Saek Fong, like Jiak Hong, also literally translates into “eating air”.

It means “to travel” or “holidaying”.

Example: “Eh your trip to Macau next month is for work or you going Saek Fong?”

5. Fan Ohk

Fan Ohk (read: fun oak), means “to go home”.

Example: “I’m going to fan ohk. You guys go ahead and karaoke without me.”

6. Lok Yu

Lok Yu is the equivalent of “Lor Hor”.

cantonese singapore
GIF Credit: giphy

So if you hear anyone saying that it “Lok Yu“, better grab your umbrella.

7. Saek And Saek Fan

Saek means to eat, though Saek Fan is more commonly used.

Saek Fan translates to “eat rice”.

cantonese singapore
GIF Credit: giphy

Example: “Guys, let’s go Saek Fan leh. 1.30pm already. I’m hungry.”

8. Fan Gao

Fan Gao means “sleep” or “sleeping”.

Example: “I’m gonna go home to Fan Gao. I’m super tired.”

9. Lei Hou Ma

This isn’t Lei Hou’s mother.

This is the Cantonese version of “Ho Seh Bo?” or “How are you?”

Example: “Hello auntie, Lei Hou Ma?”

10. Tak and Mm-Tak

Tak (read: tuck), means can. While Mm-Tak means cannot.

Example:

A: “Ma, can I go out with my friends?”

B: “Mm-Tak! You never finish your homework, you don’t go out.”

OR

A: “Can I borrow your pen?”

B: “Tak. Would you like the blue or black one?”

11. Tak-Mm-Tak

Tak-Mm-Tak, the combination of the previous 2 words, basically translates into “can or not?”

Example: “Eh I borrow your laptop, Tak-Mm-Tak? I need to check something.”

12. Fai Di

Fai Di means to “hurry up”.

cantonese singapore
GIF Credit: giphy

Example: “Fai Di lah! We’re going to be late at this rate.”

13. Dor Tseh

Dor Tseh is the ever-useful “thank you”.

cantonese singapore
GIF Credit: giphy

Always remember your “please” and “thank you”.

So there you have it, Cantonese words and phrases that aren’t names of Dim Sum dishes. Cantonese is a polite and refined dialect, unlike the seeming brash tones of Hokkien.

Once again, dialects are important because they’re part of the Chinese heritage. Don’t let it die out.

Also read A Throwback To The 90s – What S’porean Kids Used To Play With Before The Smartphone Era

(Header Image Source: DK Math Stats)

 
 
Also Read
Immersive Installation Explores SG Youths’ Vision For The Future: 5 Reasons To Check It Out

Each installation explores a topic Singapore youths like us care about, and the more you interact with them, the more they‘ll reveal.

Experience A Slice Of 50s And 60s At Chinatown Opera Festival 2019

Travel back in time and experience the performing arts on the 50s and 60s at the Chinatown Opera Festival 2019, happening 20 to 24th November.

The Secrets of City Hall Unveiled at National Gallery Singapore’s Latest Exhibition

This National Gallery Singapore exhibition lets you journey through time and hear the stories within City Hall's historical walls.

Catch This Uniquely S’porean Play By Tan Kheng Hua And Get A FREE UNIQLO Shopping Spree In Return

The Japanese brand is staging a guided play titled Modest Travels, which tell four stories of Singaporeans and their experiences overseas.

Kenny G Comes To Singapore This November To Sax Things Up For One Night Only

Fans of Kenny G will also be glad to know that the beloved saxophonist will be performing in Singapore on 8 November 2018 at The Star Theatre!

Don’t Worry, ‘Beer’ Happy – 6 Cheapest Beer Towers In S’pore For $50 And Under

Here's where you can find the cheapest beer towers in Singapore, because with beer towers this cheap, there's no reason to get your own bottle.

Beyond Char Siew Siew Yoke – Cantonese Words & Phrases You Can Impress Your Grandma With

I've always wanted to pick up Cantonese though but I can never seem to properly grasp the dialect's lack of concrete pronunciation for their consonants and their mashed vowels. But today, I'm going to try my best to convey the basic Cantonese words and phrases that I've learnt.

Hokkien 101 – Words And Phrases You Can Use Everyday Without Getting Slapped

Singapore is home to many dialect groups, but the most common one is probably Hokkien. The place where Hokkien is most prevalent is the humble kopitiam, where the elderly chatter fluently in the dialect. If your Hokkien is limited to the expletives, then here are some simple words and phrases that you can use daily.